Nige­ria sues over $12 bil­lion in ‘il­le­gal’ oil ex­ports to U.S.

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - MARKETPLACE - By Michelle Faul

LA­GOS, NIGE­RIA >> Nige­ria is su­ing sev­eral lead­ing oil com­pa­nies for $12.7 bil­lion of crude oil that al­legedly was ex­ported il­le­gally to the United States be­tween 2011 and 2014, of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

The Fed­eral High Court in La­gos be­gins hear­ings next week in cases filed against Nige­rian sub­sidiaries of U.S. multi­na­tional Chevron, Bri­tish-Dutch Shell, Ital­ian ENI’s Agip, France’s To­tal and Bra­soil of Brazil­ian Petrobas, ac­cord­ing to the court reg­is­ter.

Chevron would not com­ment since the is­sue “is the sub­ject of on­go­ing lit­i­ga­tion,” said a spokes­woman at the com­pany’s Hous­ton head­quar­ters, Is­abel Or­donez. Other com­pa­nies did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Nige­ria was Africa’s largest oil pro­ducer un­til mil­i­tant at­tacks cut pro­duc­tion and An­gola over­took it in March.

The cases could pro­voke new anger against oil com­pa­nies al­ready ac­cused of pol­lut­ing farm­land and fishing grounds. Lo­cal frus­tra­tion has con­trib­uted to an armed move­ment in the oil-pro­duc­ing Niger Delta, where mil­i­tants are de­mand­ing the multi­na­tion­als pull out.

Of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the cases said Nige­ria’s govern­ment al­leges that the com­pa­nies did not de­clare more than 57 mil­lion bar­rels of crude oil ship­ments. That was de­duced from au­dits of de­clared ex­ports and what was un­loaded in the United States.

Some shiploads reg­is­tered less when they left Nige­ria and more on reach­ing the United States, while some en­tire shiploads were un­de­clared in Nige­ria, said the of­fi­cials, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the cases still are in court.

The United States was the big­gest im­porter of Nige­rian oil un­til it be­gan ex­ploit­ing its own shale oil re­serves, though Nige­rian ex­ports to the U.S. have in­creased six-fold this year, ac­cord­ing to OPEC.

Michael Kanko con­firmed that his U.S.-based Im­portGe­nius data­base was used by at­tor­neys to con­firm dec­la­ra­tions made to U.S. cus­toms by ship­pers and im­porters.

Law pro­fes­sor Fabian Ajogwu is rep­re­sent­ing the Nige­rian govern­ment in the case against Chevron, which comes up first on Sept. 30.

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